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La banalidad del mal y sus consecuencias

Por: Gonzalo Busqué/ Nueva Revolución

 

Tenemos la obligación moral como individuos y como sociedad de preguntarnos cuáles son las consecuencias de nuestras acciones y también de nuestras omisiones.

En la Alemania de finales de los años 20 y principios de los 30 con el auge del nazismo, se pasó de la difamación y ataques en sus medios de propaganda, a la agresión física y finalmente al asesinato de los adversarios políticos de Hitler, con la connivencia de la Policía, del aparato judicial y de los grandes oligarcas alemanes que les apoyaron y los financiaron.

Mientras eso sucedía la mayoría de la sociedad alemana, en una actitud cobarde y ruin miraba para otro lado propiciando con su actitud el ascenso de aquellos criminales. Acabada la guerra y militarmente derrotadas las hordas hitlerianas, ésa misma población se desatendió de su responsabilidad por dejación, del mismo modo mezquino que los niños malcriados cuando se sienten cogidos en falta, con un “Yo no he sido, han sido ellos”,  y a otra cosa.

Hannah Arendt nos habla de la banalidad del mal y nos dice que una sociedad puede llegar a aceptar el exterminio de los otros, llámese judíos, negros, u opositores, no por maldad sino por una extraña mezcla de imbécil mediocridad, egoísmo trivial y  rutina cotidiana.

“Únicamente la pura y simple irreflexión nos puede llevar como sociedad a convertirnos en criminales. No se trata de estupidez, sino la auténtica, incapacidad para pensar lo que puede convertirnos en monstruos. El problema no son las intenciones, sino que no nos paremos a pensar en las consecuencias de nuestros actos y en las alternativas que tenemos”.

Si no ponemos en práctica lo que Arendt llamaba juicio crítico, que enlaza con la idea de Kant de pensar por uno mismo, de modo independiente y sin prejuicios, añadiéndole la necesidad de ponernos en el lugar de los demás, estamos posibilitando la diseminación del mal y la tolerancia frente a este, estamos abriendo las puertas al fascismo.

Tenemos la obligación moral como individuos y como sociedad de preguntarnos cuáles son las consecuencias de nuestras acciones y también de nuestras omisiones. ¿Qué efectos tiene en los demás lo que hacemos o lo que no hacemos? ¿El banco en el que tenemos nuestro dinero pone a otras personas en dificultades económicas? ¿ Lo que compramos está producido de forma ética o a costa de la indefensión económica de sus trabajadores? ¿Compramos a nuestro vecino en lugar de darle el beneficio a los grandes distribuidores? ¿Cómo nos relacionamos con los inmigrantes, si les negamos  el derecho a tener derechos? ¿Cuál es nuestra actitud ante la infamia de una parte de nuestra sociedad? ¿Callamos ante la injusticia mientras miramos para otro lado y con nuestro silencio nos convertimos en los cómplices necesarios?

No, al totalitarismo no se llega de un día para otro, o de un gran salto, se llega un poquito cada momento. Se llega paso a paso. Se llega olvidando las palabras de Martín Niemöller:

«Primero vinieron por los socialistas, y yo no dije nada, porque yo no era socialista.

Luego vinieron por los sindicalistas, y yo no dije nada, porque yo no era sindicalista.

Luego vinieron por los judíos, y yo no dije nada, porque yo no era judío.

Luego vinieron por mí, y no quedó nadie para hablar por mí.»

Fuente e imagen:  https://nuevarevolucion.es/la-banalidad-del-mal-y-sus-consecuencias/

 

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Nuevas Reflexiones

Por: Giorgio Agamben

¿Estamos viviendo, con este confinamiento forzado, un nuevo totalitarismo?

«En muchos aspectos se formula ahora la hipótesis de que estamos viviendo el fin de un mundo, el de las democracias burguesas, basado en los derechos, los parlamentos y la división de poderes, que está dando paso a un nuevo despotismo que, en lo que respecta a la omnipresencia de los controles y el cese de toda actividad política, será peor que los totalitarismos que hemos conocido hasta ahora. Los politólogos estadounidenses lo llaman el Estado de Seguridad, es decir, un Estado en el que «por razones de seguridad» (en este caso, «salud pública», término que hace pensar en los notorios «comités de salud pública» durante el Terror) se puede imponer cualquier límite a las libertades individuales. En Italia, después de todo, estamos acostumbrados desde hace mucho tiempo a una legislación de decretos de emergencia por parte del poder ejecutivo, que de esta manera sustituye al poder legislativo y de hecho suprime el principio de la división de poderes en el que se basa la democracia. Y el control que se ejerce a través de las cámaras de vídeo y ahora, como se ha propuesto, a través de los teléfonos móviles, supera con creces cualquier forma de control ejercido bajo regímenes totalitarios como el fascismo o el nazismo».

En lo que respecta a los datos, además de los que se reunirán por medio de los teléfonos móviles, también habría que reflexionar sobre los que se difunden en las numerosas conferencias de prensa, a menudo incompletos o mal interpretados.

«Este es un punto importante, porque toca la raíz del fenómeno. Cualquiera que tenga algún conocimiento de epistemología no puede dejar de sorprenderse de que los medios de comunicación hayan difundido durante todos estos meses cifras sin ningún criterio científico, no sólo sin relacionarlas con la mortalidad anual del mismo período, sino incluso sin especificar la causa de la muerte. No soy ni virólogo ni médico, pero simplemente citaré fuentes oficiales fiables. 21.000 muertes para Covid-19 parecen y son ciertamente una cifra impresionante. Pero si se comparan con los datos estadísticos anuales, las cosas, como es debido, adquieren un aspecto diferente. El presidente del ISTAT, el Dr. Gian Carlo Blangiardo, anunció hace unas semanas las cifras de mortalidad del año pasado: 647.000 muertes (1772 muertes por día). Si analizamos las causas en detalle, vemos que los últimos datos disponibles para 2017 registran 230.000 muertes por enfermedades cardiovasculares, 180.000 muertes por cáncer, al menos 53.000 muertes por enfermedades respiratorias. Pero hay un punto que es particularmente importante y que nos concierne de cerca.

¿Cuáles?

«Cito las palabras del Dr. Blangiardo: «En marzo de 2019 hubo 15.189 muertes por enfermedades respiratorias y el año anterior hubo 16.220. Por cierto, son más que el número correspondiente de muertes para Covid (12.352) declaradas en marzo de 2020″. Pero si esto es cierto y no tenemos motivos para dudarlo, sin querer minimizar la importancia de la epidemia, debemos preguntarnos si puede justificar medidas de restricción de la libertad que nunca se han tomado en la historia de nuestro país, ni siquiera durante las dos guerras mundiales. Existe una duda legítima de que al sembrar el pánico y aislar a la gente en sus hogares, la población se ha visto obligada a asumir las gravísimas responsabilidades de los gobiernos que primero desmantelaron el servicio nacional de salud y luego, en Lombardía, cometieron una serie de errores no menos graves al enfrentar la epidemia».

Incluso los científicos, en realidad, no ofrecieron un buen espectáculo. Parece que no pudieron dar las respuestas que se esperaban de ellos. ¿Qué opinas?

«Siempre es peligroso dejar las decisiones que en última instancia son éticas y políticas a los médicos y científicos. Verán, los científicos, con razón o sin ella, persiguen de buena fe sus razones, que se identifican con el interés de la ciencia y en nombre de las cuales – la historia lo demuestra ampliamente – están dispuestos a sacrificar cualquier escrúpulo moral. No necesito recordarles que bajo el nazismo científicos muy estimados dirigieron la política de eugenesia y no dudaron en aprovechar los lagers para llevar a cabo experimentos letales que consideraban útiles para el progreso de la ciencia y el cuidado de los soldados alemanes. En el presente caso el espectáculo es particularmente desconcertante, porque en realidad, aunque los medios de comunicación lo oculten, no hay acuerdo entre los científicos y algunos de los más ilustres entre ellos, como Didier Raoult, tal vez el mayor virólogo francés, tienen opiniones diferentes sobre la importancia de la epidemia y la eficacia de las medidas de aislamiento, que en una entrevista calificó de superstición medieval. He escrito en otra parte que la ciencia se ha convertido en la religión de nuestro tiempo. La analogía con la religión debe tomarse al pie de la letra: los teólogos declararon que no podían definir claramente lo que es Dios, pero en Su nombre dictaron reglas de conducta a los hombres y no dudaron en quemar a los herejes; los virólogos admiten que no saben exactamente qué es un virus, pero en Su nombre afirman decidir cómo deben vivir los seres humanos».

Se nos dice – como ha sucedido a menudo en el pasado – que nada volverá a ser lo mismo y que nuestras vidas deben cambiar. ¿Qué crees que pasará?

«Ya he intentado describir la forma de despotismo que debemos esperar y contra la que no debemos cansarnos de estar en guardia. Pero si, por una vez, dejamos de lado la actualidad y tratamos de considerar las cosas desde el punto de vista del destino de la especie humana en la Tierra, recuerdo las consideraciones de un gran científico holandés, Ludwig Bolk. Según Bolk, la especie humana se caracteriza por una inhibición progresiva de los procesos naturales de adaptación al medio ambiente, que son sustituidos por un crecimiento hipertrófico de los dispositivos tecnológicos para adaptar el medio ambiente al hombre. Cuando este proceso supera un cierto límite, llega a un punto en el que se vuelve contraproducente y se convierte en la autodestrucción de la especie. Fenómenos como el que estamos experimentando me parece que muestran que se ha llegado a ese punto y que la medicina que se suponía que iba a curar nuestros males corre el riesgo de producir un mal aún mayor. Incluso contra este riesgo debemos resistir con todos los medios».

Fuente e imagen: https://ficciondelarazon.org/2020/04/22/giorgio-agamben-nuevas-reflexiones/

 

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Educación crítica

Por: Leonardo Díaz 

Esta semana participé, a distancia, en un conversatorio académico sobre la función de las humanidades en tiempos de pandemia. Uno de los tópicos abordados fue la necesidad de replantearnos la finalidad de la educación en una sociedad democrática.

Durante décadas, muchos Estados asumieron el supuesto de que la educación tiene como fin la competitividad, adiestrar en una serie de habilidades necesarias para luchar por un puesto de trabajo en el mercado laboral.

Desde esta perspectiva, los sistemas educativos deben focalizarse en la enseñanza de una serie de competencias requeridas por el capitalismo corporativo, dirigidas a entrenar empleados generadores de riqueza para las grandes corporaciones y la industria del consumo.

No obstante, la realidad ha mostrado la insostenibilidad de un modelo semejante. El costo del daño al ecosistema, los ciclos periódicos de las crisis económicas -con sus secuelas de exclusión social e indignación-, el quiebre paulatino de las instituciones democráticas llamadas a sostener el modelo, así como el derrumbe del mito de que la apertura de los mercados lleva de modo inevitable a la apertura política, fuerzan a replantearse la necesidad de un tipo de educación dirigida a formar ciudadanos para una sociedad democrática sostenible.

El problema es que la democracia requiere de una ciudadanía informada, capaz de discriminar la información fidedigna de aquella que es falsa para la toma de decisiones prudente, especialmente en nuestra época, caracterizada por el ritmo avasallante de la información.

La pandemia que vivimos muestra, en toda su crudeza, las consecuencias de una educación que, durante años, se ha preocupado básicamente por servir al mercado, una educación que al marginar el cultivo de las actitudes democráticas, y de las disciplinas que las fomentan, se coloca al servicio de la barbarie, de las fuerzas del totalitarismo.

En un reseña reciente sobre la educación finlandesa, https://www.nobbot.com/educacion/finlandia-ensenan-defenderse-desinformacion-escuela/, Alberto Barbieri informa sobre el empleo de los saberes humanísticos con el fin de formar ciudadanos críticos. Es exactamente lo que considero necesario en un replanteamiento de nuestra educación. Podríamos aprovechar la actual situación para que nuestro estudiantado analice, en clase de Historia, otras pandemias del pasado y sus similitudes con el COVID 19. Podría incentivárselos a problematizar ¿Como se reaccionó ante pandemias de otras épocas? ¿Por qué se reaccionó de ese modo? ¿Qué similitudes y diferencias existen entre nuestras reacciones y las de otros períodos históricos? ¿Constituyen nuestras formas de ver el mundo concepciones más adecuadas para afrontar el COVID 19 que lo que representaron cosmovisiones pasadas para lidiar con otras pandemias?

Desde una clase de Artes, podrían analizarse las ideas del mundo expresadas en la historia, o como se representan nuestras fobias y esperanzas en las imágenes; una clase de Literatura puede proporcionar un magnífico escenario para contar y pensar los relatos o narraciones con las que intentamos dar sentido a nuestro mundo; las clases de Ciencias Sociales pueden servirnos para evaluar por qué una pandemia afecta de modo distinto a los grupos humanos si carece de intencionalidad.

En otras palabras, hablamos de fomentar una educación para la vida cuando la ilusión del mercado omnipotente se difumina. La palabra crisis proviene de un vocablo griego que significa “separar”, “punto de separación o de ruptura”. Si hay algo que esta crisis puede representar es un punto de inflexión en el modo de entender la finalidad de la enseñanza.  Podemos obviarlo y olvidarlo cuando la vida vuelva a la “normalidad”, o podemos aprovecharlo y comprender que una educación crítica no es un lujo para las clases acomodadas, sino la única vacuna efectiva contra las fuerzas del totalitarismo y la barbarie.

Fuente: https://acento.com.do/2020/opinion/8808969-educacion-critica/

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Educación, democracia y totalitarismo

Por: Juan Pedro Viñuela Rodríguez

La universalización de la enseñanza y, sobre todo, su obligatoriedad, no es más que la universalización de la ignorancia para producir, literalmente, como mercancía, mano de obra para el sistema capitalista. La Ilustración, sin intención, ignorantemente, puso las bases de esta tropelía que convirtió el sistema educativo en un sistema de producir mano de obra para el mercado laboral. Y, eso, requería, la universalización de la ignorancia. Es decir, la transmutación de la educación en la búsqueda del saber y la conquista de la libertad por medio del conocimiento que nos hace autónomos, en universalización de la ignorancia, en el relativismo del todo vale, en el constructivismo del conocimiento… El centro de la educación ya no es el conocimiento y la libertad, siendo el maestro o el profesor, el vehículo o mero transmisor de este legado de milenios y la posibilidad de aumentar dicho legado, sino el alumno. Éste se convierte en el centro del proyecto nihilista de aprender a aprender. ¿Cómo se puede aprender a aprender si no hay unos contenidos desde los que lanzarse a ese aprender? Dela Nada, Nada sale. Es la mayor farsa educativa que se ha producido y que el sistema educativo, vigilado por políticos y el propio mercado, han hecho cumplir desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial para mantener el orden del nuevo mundo llamado socialdemocracia o estado de bienestar que no es más que el estado de ignorancia de la inmensa mayoría para ser mano de obra disponible para el mercado. Mano de obra sumisa y obediente. ¡Qué lejos nos queda el ideal de la Ilustración y aquel sapere aude (atrévete a saber por ti mismo) kantiano! El engaño ha sido perpetrado y la educación, en nombre de la democracia ha instaurado un totalitarismo en el que estamos inmersos y del que la inmensa mayoría es ignorante, se encuentra dentro de la caverna. Como nos lo dice admirablemente Sánchez Tortosa:

“La libertad ciudadana que la Ilustración soñó y que acabó siendo el reconocimiento jurídico de una ciudadanía con la que proletarizar a los sujetos productivos, materializada por la Revolución Industrial, se convirtió, en materia educativa, en una libertad escolar, también soñada, que no resultó ser sino la extensión del radio de acción del Estado sobre lo que antes quedaba al margen, medida con la que producir analfabetos por medio del sutil recurso de escolarización universalizando la ignorancia. Esta es la sentencia imparable coronada en Europa tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y, en España, con las leyes de 1970 (Villar Palasí) y de 1990 (Logse).” Sánchez Tortosa. “El culto pedagógico”, p. 107

Dicho más llanamente. La educación es una forma de domesticación, una forma totalitaria de mantenernos en la ignorancia y disponibles para la producción, el consumo y entretenidos. De ahí la idea de educación para toda la vida. Como si eso fuese algo nuevo, como si los grandes sabios de la historia no hubiesen estado estudiando hasta su último aliento. Eso sí, no pagando «masters», que te acrediten como apto para un trabajo.

Lo grave de todo esto es que asistimos a una sociedad del cansancio, nihilista y que opta, por salir de su vacío existencial, psicológico y ontológico, por el entretenimiento. Y el entretenimiento está basado en el consumo. Y el consumo es una forma de auto devorarse. La paradoja de todo esto es que se nos enseña que estamos en sociedades democráticas, en las que hay un estado de derecho y todo es una farsa. La educación, que es el eje sobre el que debe pivotar la formación de individuos libres y, por ende, democráticos, es una forma de totalitarismo. Una forma de vehículo de transmisión de la ideología del poder, pero, no sólo del gobierno, sino del Estado. Cuando el Estado se hace cargo de la educación, es el educador del pueblo, como es el caso, estamos ante una forma de totalitarismo brutal. El estado transmite el status quo social, que en este caso es el neoliberalismo, el gobierno transmite su ideología, que no se distingue, en lo esencial, de la del Estado y de la globalizada y el mercado impone su regla de transformarlo todo en mercancía. Por tanto, estamos ante una Plutocracia, Partitocracia y Mercantilismo. Y estos sistemas de ideas totalitarias son los que rigen la educación, desde la cuna hasta la tumba, todo está controlado y el Gran Hermano nos vigila. Resulta ya un poco grosero seguir llamando a esto democracia: el poder reside en el pueblo. Pero, qué poder y qué pueblo. Todo es un baile de máscaras y hasta que no aprendamos a desenmascarar no conquistaremos nuestra libertad. Pero tenemos miedo a la libertad, porque el suelo de la libertad es el vacío. De ahí que ya señalara Kant, que no somos mayores de edad, es decir libres, por pereza y cobardía.

De modo que asistimos impertérritos a la farsa que durante años representan nuestros políticos y, sorprendentemente, les seguimos el juego y votamos. Y nos creemos el cuento de que no hay nada que hacer, que no hay alternativa y que el sistema capitalista es el único posible, como si hubiese existido siempre…y, en fin, así todo. Vivimos en una sociedad absolutamente enferma. Lo cual significa que, no sólo los dinamismos sociales están enfermos, sino los nodos de esas redes. Y esos nodos somos nosotros. Y la cura de nuestra enfermedad es salir del veneno de la ignorancia. Pero la ignorancia no es no saber, no, la ignorancia es algo mucho más profundo y hasta inmensamente peligroso. Es no saber que no se sabe. El ignorante, al no saber que no sabe se resiste a salir de su ignorancia y replica sus creencias y hasta muere y mata por ellas. Es un fanático. Los ignorantes son creados por los sistemas totalitarios. Por eso, en una educación totalitaria, se dan todas las condiciones para bloquear cualquier insurrección, porque estará vista como un atentado a la misma democracia. Se nos ha enseñado que la sociedad se basa en los valores de la democracia, pero es una enseñanza invertida, totalitaria, como hemos visto. Lo que se nos ha enseñado es a obedecer sin ser consciente de nuestra obediencia. Se nos ha enseñado a participar del sistema y construirlo y defenderlo como propio, cuando, realmente, somos sus víctimas, porque se nos ha arrebatado la libertad.

Fuente: https://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=261256&titular=educaci%F3n-democracia-y-totalitarismo-

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Dancing With the Devil: Trump’s Politics of Fascist Collaboration

by Henry A. Giroux

Donald Trump’s election has sparked a heated debate about the past, particularly over whether the Trump administration represents a continuum, if not an echo, of the protean origins of fascism. This is an argument that combines the resources of historical memory with current analyses of the distinctive temper of a new and dangerous historical moment in the United States. For instance, an increasing number of pundits across the ideological spectrum have identified Trump as a fascist or neo-fascist, while resurrecting some of the key messages of an earlier period of fascist politics. On the left/liberal side of politics, this includes writers, such as Chris Hedges, Robert Reich, Cornel West, Drucilla Cornell, Peter Dreier and John Bellamy Foster. Similar arguments have been made on the conservative side by writers, such as Robert Kagan, Jeet Heer, Meg Whitman and Charles Sykes.

Historians of fascism, such as Timothy Snyder and Robert O. Paxton have argued that Trump is not Hitler but that there are sufficient similarities between them to warrant some concerns about surviving elements of a totalitarian past crystalizing into new forms in the United States. Paxton, in particular, argues that the Trump regime is closer to a plutocracy than to fascism. But, I think Paxton overplays the differences between fascism and Trump’s style of authoritarianism, particularly underemphasizing Trump’s ultra-nationalism, militarism and his embrace of the neoliberal state which does not suggest the rule of free-market capitalism but a more extreme example of the corporate state or what Mussolini called the corporatist state. In this case, traditional state power has been replaced by the rule of major corporations and the financial elite. At the same time, the social cleansing and state violence inherent in totalitarianism has been amplified under Trump. Both Hannah Arendt and Sheldon Wolin, the great historians of totalitarianism, have argued that the conditions that produce authoritarian logics have persisted well after their mid-twentieth century expressions. Wolin, in particular, insisted in 2010 that the United States was evolving into an authoritarian society.

Recently, though, numerous critics have denied the persistence of fascism and totalitarianism. They have argued that Trump is either a sham, right-wing populist, or simply a reactionary Republican. Three notable examples of the latter positions can be found in the work of cultural critic Neal Gabler, who argues that Trump is mostly a self-promoting con artist and pretender president whose greatest crime is to elevate pretense, self-promotion and appearance over substance, all of which proves that he lacks the capacity and will to govern. Andrew O’Hehir claims we have to choose between whether Trump is just a clown or a fascist dictator and in the end seems to pivot more toward the clown argument, though he admits Trump is nonetheless dangerous. A more sophisticated version of this argument can be found in the work of historian Victoria de Grazia, who has argued that Trump bears little direct resemblance to either Hitler or Mussolini and is just a reactionary conservative.

Certainly, Trump is not Hitler, and the United States at the current historical moment is not the Weimar Republic. But it would be irresponsible to consider Trump to be a either a clown or aberration given his hold on power and the ideologues who support him. What appears indisputable is that Trump’s election is part of a sustained effort over the last 40 years on the part of the financial elite to undermine the democratic ethos and highjack the institutions that support it. Consequently, in the midst of the rising tyranny of totalitarian politics, democracy is on life support and its fate appears more uncertain than ever. Such an acknowledgment should make clear that the curse of totalitarianism is not a historical relic and that it is crucial that we learn something about the current political moment by examining how the spread of authoritarianism has become the crisis of our times, albeit in a form suited to the American context.

History, once again, offers us a framework in which a global constellation of authoritarian economic, social  and political forces are coming together that speak to tensions and contradictions animating everyday lives that transcend national boundaries for which there is not yet a comprehensive, coherent and critical language. What has emerged is a climate of precarity, fear, angst, paranoia and incendiary passion. Drawing upon Hannah Arendt, it would be wise to resurrect one of the key questions that emerges from her work on totalitarianism, which is whether the events of our time are leading to totalitarian rule.

Whether or not Trump is a fascist in the exact manner of earlier totalitarian leaders somewhat misses the point, because it suggests that fascism is a historically fixed doctrine rather than an ideology that mutates and expresses itself in different forms around a number of commonalities. There is no exact blueprint for fascism, though echoes of its past haunt contemporary politics. As Adam Gopnik observes:

            … to call [Trump] a fascist of some variety is simply to use a historical label that fits. The arguments about whether he meets every point in some static fascism matrix show a misunderstanding of what that ideology involves. It is the essence of fascism to have no single fixed form — an attenuated form of nationalism in its basic nature, it naturally takes on the colors and practices of each nation it infects. In Italy, it is bombastic and neoclassical in form; in Spain, Catholic and religious; in Germany, violent and romantic. It took forms still crazier and more feverishly sinister, if one can imagine, in Romania, whereas under Oswald Mosley, in England, its manner was predictably paternalistic and  aristocratic. It is no surprise that the American face of fascism would take on the forms of celebrity television and the casino greeter’s come-on, since that is as much our symbolic scene as nostalgic re-creations of Roman splendors once were Italy’s.

The undeniable truth is that Trump is the product of an authoritarian movement and ideology with fascist overtones. In responding to the question of whether or not he believes Trump is a fascist, historian Timothy Snyder makes clear that the real issue is not whether Trump is a literal model of other fascist leaders but whether his approach to governing and the new political order he is producing are fascistic. He writes:

I don’t want to dodge your question about whether Trump is a fascist or not. As I see it, there are certainly elements of his approach which are fascistic. The straight-on confrontation with the truth is at the center of the fascist worldview. The attempt to undo the Enlightenment as a way to undo institutions, that is fascism. Whether he realizes it or not is a different question, but that’s what fascists did. They said, ‘Don’t worry about the facts, don’t worry about logic, think instead in terms of mystical unities and direct connections between the mystical leader and the people.’ That’s fascism. Whether we see it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we forget, that is fascism. Another thing that’s clearly fascist about Trump were the rallies. The way that he used the language, the blunt repetitions, the naming of the enemies, the physical removal of opponents from rallies, that was really, without exaggeration, just like the 1920s and the 1930s. And Mr. [Steve] Bannon’s preoccupation with the 1930s and his kind of wishful reclamation of Italian and other fascists speaks for itself.

To date, Trump’s ascendancy has been compared to the discrete emergence of deeply reactionary nationalisms in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere. I would like to broaden the lens with which we view these incipient events in ways that allow for a deeper historical understanding of the international scope and interplay of critical forces that respond to the shifts and contradictions brought about by a globalizing world increasingly brought to the brink of catastrophe by technological disruption, massive inequities in wealth and power, ecological disaster, mass migrations, relentless permanent warfare and the threat of a nuclear crisis. In the United States, shades of a growing authoritarianism are present in Trump’s eroding of civil liberties, the undermining of the separation of church and state, health care policies that reveal an egregious indifference to life and death, his manufactured spectacles of self-promotion, contempt for weakness and dissent, and his attempts to shape the political realm through a process of fear, if not tyranny itself, as Snyder insists in his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

History contains dangerous memories and this is particularly true for Trump given the ideological features and legacies of fascism that are deeply woven into his rhetoric of hate and demonization, his mix of theater and violence, his frenzied defiance of basic laws and his policies supportive of ultra-nationalism and racial cleansing. All the more reason for Trump and his acolytes to treat historical memory as a dangerous ghost that harbors critical tools for understanding how the present has become the past and the past informs the future. Historical memory matters because it serves as a form of moral witnessing, and in doing so becomes a crucial asset in preventing new forms of fascism from becoming normalized. We cannot pretend as if the current conditions exist outside of history in some ethereal space in which everything is measured against the degree of distraction it promises.

Echoes of Trump’s fascist impulses  have been well documented, but what has been overlooked is a sustained analysis of his abuse and disparagement of historical memory, particularly in light of his association with a range of current right-wing dictators and political demagogues across the globe. Trump’s ignorance of history was on full display with his misinformed comments about former president Andrew Jackson and nineteenth-century abolitionist Frederick Douglas. Trump’s comments about Jackson having strong views on the civil war were widely ridiculed, given that Jackson died 16 years before the war started. Trump was also criticized for comments he made during Black History Month when he spoke about Frederick Douglass as if he were still alive, though he died 120 years ago. For the mainstream press, these historical missteps largely reflect Trump’s ignorance of American history. But I think there is more at stake than simply ignorance, given the appeal of Trump’s comments to white nationalists.

Trump’s comments provide a window into his ongoing practice of stepping outside of history so as to deny its relevance for understanding both the economic and political forces that brought him to power and the historical lessons to be drawn, given his egregious embrace of a number of authoritarian elements that resemble the plague of a fascist past. His alleged ignorance is also a cover for enabling a post-truth culture in which dissent is reduced to «fake news,» the press is dismissed as the enemy of the people and a mode of totalitarian education is enabled whose purpose, as Hannah Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism, is «not to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.» Trump may appear to be an ignoramus and a clown, but such behavior points to something more profound politically, such as an attack on any viable notion of thoughtfulness and moral agency. His forays into international politics offer another less remarked upon form of fascistic embrace.

There are important lessons to be mined historically regarding how we examine Donald Trump’s support from and for a number of ruthless dictators and political demagogues. Trump’s endorsements of and by a range of ruthless dictators are well-known and include Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the [recently defeated] French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party. All of these politicians have been condemned by a number of human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House. Less has been said about the support Trump has received from controversial right-wing bigots and politicians from around the world, such as Nigel Farage, the former leader of the right-wing UK Independence Party; Matteo Salvini, the right-wing Italian politician who heads the North League [Lega Nord]; Geert Wilders, the founder of the Dutch Party for Freedom; and Viktor Orbán, the reactionary prime minister of Hungary. All of these politicians share a mix of ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and transphobia. While the mainstream press and others have expressed moral outrage over these associations, they have refused to examine these relationships within a broader historical context. In an age when totalitarian ideas and tendencies inhabit the everyday experiences of millions of people and create a formative culture for promoting massive human suffering and misery, Trump’s affinity for indulging right-wing demagogues becomes an important signpost for recognizing the totalitarian nightmare that marks a terrifying glimpse of the future.

Historical memory suggests that a better template for understanding Trump’s embrace of rogue states, dictators and neo-fascist politicians can be found in the reprehensible history of collaboration between individuals and governments, and the fascist regimes of Italy and Germany before and during the Second World War. For instance, one of the darkest periods in French history took place under Marshall Philippe Petain, the head of the Vichy regime, who collaborated with the Nazi regime between 1940 and 1944.

As Helene Fouquet and Gregory Viscusi have noted, the Vichy regime was responsible for «about 76,000 Jews [being] deported from France, only 3,000 of whom returned from the concentration camps…. Twenty-six percent of France’s pre-war Jewish population died in the Holocaust.» For years, France refused to examine and condemn this shameful period in its history by claiming that the Vichy regime was an aberration, a position that has been recently taken up by Marine Le Pen, the neo-fascist National Front candidate. Not only has Le Pen denied the French government’s responsibility for the roundup of Jews sent to concentration camps between 1940 and 1944, she has also used a totalitarian script from the past in appealing to economic nationalism in order «to cover up her fascist principles.» During the election [campaign], as Angela Charlton has noted, [now President] Emmanuel Macron repeatedly «paid homage … to the tens of thousands of French Jews killed in the Holocaust, with a somber, simple message to voters: Never Again,» which served as a powerful reminder «of the anti-Semitic past of his rival Marine Le-Pen’s far-right National Front party.» Of course, such comments should not be read as an extraordinary political intervention for a mediocre neoliberal presidential candidate. These comments should be acknowledged by all candidates.

The deeply horrifying acts of collaboration with twentieth-century fascism were not limited to France and included collaborators in Belgium, Croatia, the IRA [in Ireland], Greece, Holland and other countries. At the same time that millions of people were being killed by the Nazis, many businesses collaborated with them in order to profit from the fascist machinery of death. Business that collaborated with the Nazis included Kodak, which used slave laborers in Germany. Hugo Boss, the clothing company, manufactured clothes for the Nazis. IBM created the punch cards and a sorting system used for identifying Jews and other marginalized people and sending them to the gas chambers. BMW and IG Farben used forced laborers in Germany along with Audi, the giant car company that «used thousands of forced laborers from the concentration camps … to work in their plant.»

The political and moral stain for collaboration with the Nazis was also at work in the United States and was evident in both FDR’s and the American business community’s initial supportive views of Mussolini. Moreover, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, «In 1937 the State Department described Hitler as a kind of moderate who was holding off the dangerous forces of the left, meaning of the Bolsheviks, the labor movement … and of the right, namely the extremist Nazis. [They believed] Hitler was kind of in the middle and therefore we should kind of support him.» One telling incident of collaboration suggesting America’s deeply rooted affinity with fascist principles is visible in the America First movement of the 1930s. America First was the motto of Americans friendly to Nazi ideology and Hitler’s Germany. Its most famous spokespersons were Charles Lindbergh and William Randolph Hearst. The movement had a long history of anti-Semitism evident in Lindbergh’s claim that American Jews were pushing America into war. Historian Susan Dunn has argued that the phrase, America First, which was appropriated and used by Donald Trump before and after his election, is a «toxic phrase with a putrid history.»

The concept of collaboration functions historically to deepen our understanding of Trump’s associations with right-wing demagogues as a warning sign that offers up a glimpse of both the contemporary recurrence of fascist overtones from the past and what Richard Falk has called «a pre-fascist moment.» Trump’s endorsement of right-wing demagogues, such as Duterte, Le Pen and Erdoğan, in particular, is more than an aberration for a US president: It suggests more ominously his disregard for human rights, the suppression of dissent, human suffering and the principles of democracy itself. Trump’s collaboration with dictators and right-wing rogues also suggests something more ominous. As Michael Brenner observes, » … authoritarian movements and ideology with fascist overtones are back — in America and in Europe. Not just as a political expletive thrown at opponents, but as a doctrine, as a movement, and — above all — as a set of feelings.»

It is against this historical backdrop of collaboration that Trump’s association with various dictators should be analyzed. The case of Rodrigo Duterte is particularly telling. Warning signs of a «pre-fascist moment» abound in Trump’s invitation to Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House. Duterte has supported and employed the use of death squads both as mayor of Davao and as the president of the Philippines. The New York Times has reported that «more than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, witnesses and bystanders — including children — have been killed by the police or vigilantes in the Philippines» under Duterte’s rule. Moreover, he has supported a nationwide killing machine that includes giving «free license to the police and vigilantes» to kill drug users and pushers while allowing children, innocent bystanders and others to be caught in the indiscriminate violence. He has called former president Obama «the son of a whore,» has compared himself to Hitler, has stated that Trump approves of his drug war, and has threatened to assassinate journalists. Duterte’s ruthlessness is captured by photographer, Daniel Berehulak, who while working in the Philippines stated that he had «worked in 60 countries, covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spent much of 2014 living inside West Africa’s Ebola zone, a place gripped by fear and death» but added that what he experienced in the Philippines «felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to «slaughter them all.'»

Trump’s support for Duterte may arise out of his admiration for his law-and-order campaign, his hatred of the press, and his utter embrace of one-man rule. It may also have to do with Trump’s various business ventures in the Philippines, including ownership of a new «$150 million tower in Manila’s financial district.» All of these issues represent in more extreme form elements of Trump’s own anti-democratic policies and serve as a warning as to how far he might want to push them.

Trump’s affinity for what borders on collaboration with overt racists and authoritarians has played out within a global configuration of economic nationalism and right-wing politics among people, such as Le Pen, Erdoğan, Putin and el-Sisi who look to Trump for support and tacit approval.

Trump’s tacit support for Le Pen’s failed bid for the presidency of France rests on his sympathies with her anti-immigration policies, her ultra-nationalism and her claim to speak for the people. Like Le Pen, he deflects attention away from real problems, such as rising inequality, a carceral state, human rights violations, racial injustice and climate change, while demonizing and scapegoating marginalized people. Trump wants to join hands with those other right-wing leaders who want to build walls, beef up the security state and enable his white nationalist and white supremacist followers. His affinity for collaboration with Le Pen feeds his own narcissistic impulses, bigotry, hatred of Muslims and what Juan Cole calls «economic patriotism.»

At the same time, Trump’s disdain for human rights, the critical media and dissent has enamored him to Putin in Russia, Erdoğan in Turkey and el-Sisi in Egypt. These men are all ideological bedfellows of Trump who harbor a great deal of contempt for the rule of law, the courts and any other check on their power. Erdoğan, in particular, has not only imposed a state of emergency on his country and then later installed himself as a virtual dictator, but he has also purged and arrested dissidents in the critical media and in academia. After Erdoğan assumed dictatorial powers through what many believe was a rigged election, Trump congratulated him in a phone call. As Jennifer Williams and Zack Beauchamp have noted, el-Sisi, a brutal military dictator, «overthrew his country’s democratically elected president in a 2013 coup, killed more than 800 protesters in a single day, and has imprisoned tens of thousands of dissidents since he took power.» Williams and Beauchamp add that Trump’s response to his human rights violations and the turning of Egypt into a police state was to publicly announce that he was «very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a difficult situation.» Trump has also offered to meet with Thailand prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, a junta head who is responsible for jailing dissidents after he took power through a coup. He has also called one of the most brutal dictators in the world, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, «a smart cookie.» Ironically, such praise comes at a time when Trump is threatening North Korea with a frightening and terrifying military confrontation.

In his endorsement, support and legitimation of a range of dictators and right-wing extremists, Trump has emulated a period in history of shameless complicity with the ideologies, policies and practices associated with fascism itself. Situating Trump within the historical legacy of collaboration with fascist states and leaders provides a new language for examining how far Trump might go in pushing authoritarian policies, and how historical memory can be used to prevent such practices from being normalized. Trump’s collaborationist endorsements offer insights into what the prelude to authoritarianism looks like in contemporary terms by enabling the public to understand how fascism can be normalized by escaping from history.

The politics of collaboration reminds us that the current crisis facing Americans is really about the crisis of memory, justice and democracy and not simply about Trump’s poor judgment or aberrant behavior. Historical memory, in this case, is a crucial referent for gaining insights into the violent forces and totalitarian forms emerging under the Trump regime. It also provides a referent for salvaging possibilities for individual and collective resistance against the evolving dynamics of an American-style fascism that poses a dire threat to democracy at home and abroad.

Source:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40593-dancing-with-the-devil-trump-s-politics-of-fascist-collaboration

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Thinking Dangerously in Dark Times

Henry Giroux

The conditions that produce the terrifying curse of totalitarianism seem to be upon us and are increasingly visible in President Trump’s denial of civil liberties, the stoking of fear in the general population, and a reckless hostility to the rule of law and a free and critical press. Totalitarian elements of the past are also evident in Trump’s contempt for the truth, and a willingness to create a new political formation through an alignment of religious fundamentalists, racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, the ultra-rich, and unhinged militarists. Hannah Arendt once argued that all thinking is dangerous. This appears particularly true in an age when radical extremists who trade in hate-filled discourses, white nationalism, and racist policies move from the margins of society to the center of American politics.

Against the current assault on critical thinking and the institutions that nurture it, it is crucial for Americans to reclaim the call to think dangerously again and employ language in the service of compassion, justice, and civic responsibility. In part, this suggests learning how to hold authority accountable, search for the truth, make authoritarian power visible, and recognize that no society can escape self-reflection, deny the injuries of state induced injustice, or dispense with truth itself. Dangerous thinking should cause trouble, exercise its right to both understand and interrogate critically the major problems people face while being able to connect such issues to larger structural considerations. Thinking dangerously means refusing a culture of immediacy and sensationalism. Such thinking requires using historical memory as a resource and connecting private troubles to broader political, structural, and economic issues. Such thinking nurtures the social imagination and envisions a future in which the impossible becomes possible once again.

What happens to democracy when the President of the United States labels critical media outlets as “enemies of the people” and derides the search for truth by disparaging such efforts with the blanket term “fake news”? What happens to democracy when individuals and groups are demonized on the basis of their religion? What happens to a society when critical thinking becomes an object of contempt and is disdained in favor of raw emotion or disparaged as fake news? What happens to a social order ruled by an “economics of contempt” that blames the poor for their condition and subjects them to a culture of shaming? What happens to a polity when it retreats into private silos and becomes indifferent to the use of language in the service of a panicked rage that stokes anger but not about issues that matter? What happens to a social order when it treats millions of illegal immigrants as disposable, potential terrorists, and criminals? What happens to a country when the presiding principles of a society are violence and ignorance? What happens is that democracy withers and dies, both as an ideal and as a reality.

How else to explain the present historical moment with its collapse of civic culture and the future it cancels out? What is to be made of the undermining of civic literacy and the conditions that produce an active citizenry at a time when massive self-enrichment and a gangster morality at the highest reaches of government undermine the public realm as a space of freedom, liberty, dialogue, and deliberative consensus? Americans are in the midst of a crisis of history, politics, and agency, made all the more obvious by a government populated by right-wing extremists attempting to implement death-dealing policies regarding health care, the environment, the economy, foreign policy, immigration, and civil liberties.

Democracy fails in an age when its leadership is stripped of credibility. As a habitual liar, Trump has attempted to obliterate the distinction between the facts and fiction, evidence-based arguments and lying, and in doing so has dangerously enlarged the landscape of distortion, misrepresentation, and falsification. Not only has he reinforced the legitimacy of what I call “right-wing disimagination machines” such as Breitbart News, he has also created among large segments of the public a distrust for both the truth and the institutions that promote critical literacy and informed judgment. Consequently, he has managed to organize millions of people who believe that loyalty is more important than the truth and in doing so has emptied the language and the horizon of politics of any substantive meaning, thus contributing to an authoritarian and depoliticized culture of sensationalism, immediacy, fear, and anxiety. Trump has put in motion all the anti-democratic forces that have haunted American society for the last forty years. The broader consequence of his campaign of distortion, lies, and falsification has been captured in an interview Hannah Arendt gave to the New York Review of Books in 1947 in the aftermath of the horrors of fascism. She writes:

“The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do  what you please.”

In the present moment, it becomes particularly important for progressives and others to protect and enlarge the formative cultures and public spheres that make democracy possible. Under a relentless attack on the truth, honesty, and the ethical imagination, the need for the American public to think dangerously is crucial, especially in a society that appears increasingly amnesiac—a country where forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. Rather than draining the swamp, the Trump administration has pushed cronyism and the rule of the elite to a new level of political corruption. All of which becomes all the more threatening at a time when the United States has tipped over into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and the idiotic, but it is also visible in the proliferation of anti-intellectual discourses and policies among a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who are waging a war on science, reason, and the legacy of the Enlightenment.

At the core of thinking dangerously is the recognition that education is central to politics and that a democracy cannot survive without informed citizens. Critical and dangerous thinking is the precondition for nurturing both the ethical imagination and formative culture that enable engaged citizens to learn how to govern rather than be governed. Thinking with courage is fundamental to a notion of civic literacy that views knowledge as central to the pursuit of economic and political justice. Such thinking incorporates a critical framework and set of values that enables a polity to deal critically with the use and effects of power, particularly through a developed sense of compassion for others and the planet. Thinking dangerously is the basis for a formative and educational culture of questioning that takes seriously how imagination is key to the practice of freedom. Thinking dangerously is, thus, not only the cornerstone of critical agency and engaged citizenship, but also the foundation for a democracy that matters.

Source:

Thinking Dangerously in Dark Times

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EE.UU: Chomsky: Calling Someone ‘Anti-American’ Is a Classic Technique of Social Control «That word ‘Americanism’ [is] the kind of term that you only find in totalitarian societies.»

 

EE.UU./16 de septiembre de 2016/By Alexandra Rosenmann/AlterNet

 

Resumen: Chomsky: llamar a alguien ‘anti-americano «es una técnica clásica de control social «Esa palabra ‘americanismo’ es el tipo de término que sólo se encuentra en las sociedades totalitarias.» Es una tendencia común, lo hemos visto antes, alguien en los Estados Unidos desafía el poder y la historia oficial y de manera fundamental, y se convierten en las víctimas de campañas de difamación que ellos llaman anti-estadounidense. La etiqueta se ha utilizado para describir a personajes como: Colin Kaepernick a Donald Trump, pero Chomsky cree que es un golpe bajo. «Es posible que echar un vistazo a esa palabra ‘americanismo’, es un término de fantasía, que es el tipo de término que sólo se encuentra en las sociedades totalitarias por lo que yo sé. Así como en la Unión Soviética, y anti-sovietismo se consideró la más grave de todos los delitos … y los generales brasileños tenían algún concepto como el anti-brasileña, pero trata, por ejemplo, la publicación de un libro sobre la lucha contra Italianism y ver lo que sucede en las calles de Roma o Milán la gente no importara la risa , que es una idea ridícula «, explica Chomsky. «Por lo que yo sé, los Estados Unidos es la única sociedad libre que tiene un concepto,» dijo Chomsky. «Americanismo y anti-estadounidense y anti-americanismo y así sucesivamente … son conceptos que inducen … el odio y el miedo entre la gente.

It’s a common trend, we’ve seen it before—someone in America challenges power and the official storyline in a fundamental way, and they become the victims of smear campaigns that call them anti-American. The label has been used to describe everyone from Colin Kaepernick to Donald Trump, just in the past week. But Noam Chomsky believes it’s a low blow.

«You might take a look at that word ‘Americanism,’ it’s an unusual term, it’s the kind of term that you only find in totalitarian societies as far as I know. So like in the Soviet Union, and anti-Sovietism was considered the gravest of all crimes… and the Brazilian generals had some concept like that anti-Brazilian, but try, say, publishing a book on anti-Italianism and see what happens in the streets of Rome or Milan People won’t even bother laughing, it’s a ludicrous idea,» Chomsky explained.

«As far as I know, the United States is the only free society that has such a concept,» Chomsky said. «Americanism and anti-Americanism and un-Americanism and so on … these are concepts which … induce hatred and fear among people.»

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Chomsky: Calling Someone ‘Anti-American’ Is a Classic Technique of Social Control

«That word ‘Americanism’ [is] the kind of term that you only find in totalitarian societies.»

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